Excerpted from British Journal Of Photography Title: Wide of the marque Date: 22 March 2006 Hasselblad's return to profit means that it can now invest in new products. The bad news is that one of its best-loved cameras is to vanish. Simon Bainbridge and Katie Scott report BJP has learnt that Hasselblad has discontinued its X-Pan camera. The UK will soon takes its last delivery of the much-loved 35mm panoramic camera, which is manufactured by Fujifilm (and sold by the Japanese company in its home market as the TX2). The decision follows new EU regulations - known as ROHS approvals - which come into effect on 01 July, designed to cut back on hazardous waste. The approvals state that new electrical equipment cannot contain lead, cadmium or many other hazardous materials. This means that lead soldering can no longer be used in the cameras' circuit boards. The use of non-lead designs are more complex and would necessitate a total redesign of the cameras. 'Unfortunately,' Hasselblad CEO Christian Poulsen told BJP, 'the volume for the X-Pan is so low right now that we cannot justify a redesign. It's very frustrating, because it's a nice product, and optically, the lenses are very, very good. The approvals were designed for products that only last a couple of years, such as computers, cell phones and kids toys. The X-Pan will probably last for 30 or 40 years. It's ridiculous, but that's how the rules are.' Sales of the X-Pan have been strong in the UK compared to most other countries. A disappointed Simon Barnard, MD of Hasselblad UK, told BJP that it still has X-Pans to sell, but not as many as it would have liked. He predicted supplies would run out in the next two months, but promised that support would continue for another 10 years. V-system support Poulsen vehemently denied rumours that the company will also stop production of its famous V-series cameras. 'We've worked very hard to cut down on costs to make us much more flexible production-wise. We have stopped all production of parts in Gothenburg: it's outsourced now and we have better flexibility for scaling down. 'That's been going on for 18 months. And now we are trying to consolidate support in three centres around the world - America, Europe and Asia - so that even when the volume gets very low, customers will still be able to send off equipment to these centres. Eventually, local support will disappear, but it will be quite a few years before that happens in England.' New products Asked about large format solutions, he commented: 'I can confirm that we are working on a tilt-and-shift solution. Why? Because we want to help photographers get back to more advanced photography again. Digital has resulted in them forgetting about putting their craft and skills back into photography. So, in a lot of areas we are working on the art of photography, because that's where the money is.' Poulsen says the solution will be something more complex than its existing digital back offering compatibility with large format systems. 'It will be something much more advanced - but wait until Photokina (this September). He also confirmed that Hasselblad will bring out a new waist-level finder for the H-system, something the company had resisted until the introduction of 39 million pixel resolution sensors. 'The problem was that as soon as you go to rectangular and want portrait mode on an H camera, you need to turn the camera around and then the finder won't work. With the 39 million pixel resolution, you can allow yourself to crop some pixels away and still get very high resolution. So, for the first time, it makes sense to introduce a waist-level finder.' Sensor design He also revealed that Hasselblad will become the first digital back manufacturer to specify its own sensors. 'We are thinking about getting involved in the design process itself and then strategically partnering up with somebody else who can build it together with us. 'We know so much about making the drivers for the sensors, so it's better for us to make them instead of the sensor vendors. And, of course, we know what the photographer wants - and we are finally in a position (being back in profit) where we can invest and get our own sensors made. We can put in the features that we think are essential to our customers, rather than having to continue to live with standard features. Unfortunately, the high-end photographic market has not been big enough to justify this before.' In brief - X-Pan discontinued - UK soon takes last delivery - Local support for V-system to go - Tilt-and-shift solution in progress - Waist-level finder coming soon - Hasselblad to design own sensors.